The 2011 NFL season is now 50.8 percent complete, which makes this a great time to take a look at who’s on track to win this year’s big awards. Then again, we do that every week. But now it’s actually starting to mean something. Fittingly, the Packers and 49ers continue to dominate.
MVP: Aaron Rodgers, Packers — Barring a tremendous slump or a serious injury, this award will be owned by Rodgers come January. Another ridiculous performance in a huge road victory to move the Packers to 8-0 on Sunday. To think that 21 teams passed on this guy in the 2003 NFL draft.
Offensive player of the year: Rodgers — He’s on pace to pass for an NFL-record 5,238 yards while putting up an NFL-record 129.1 passer rating. A 48-to-6 touchdown-to-pick ratio and a 9.9 yards-per-attempt average would also be unheard of. Oh, and only three quarterbacks have more rushing yards.
Defensive player of the year: Jared Allen, Vikings — No reason to take the award away when Allen was on a bye, especially with DeMarcus Ware failing to record a sack and Darrelle Revis getting beat by a deep ball in Buffalo.
Offensive rookie of the year: Cam Newton, Panthers — Again, I won’t strip Newton of the award since he hasn’t played since last week’s column, but Andy Dalton was impressive in another win. Dalton’s now 6-2; Newton’s 2-6. Wins and losses go beyond quarterback play, but that says a lot. In any other year (or at least some other years), A.J. Green and Julio Jones would also be in the running.
Defensive rookie of the year: Aldon Smith, 49ers — Quiet on the stat sheet in another San Francisco win, but he’s enough of a pest to register double-digit sacks in his rookie campaign. Von Miller continues to make it interesting, and don’t count out Buffalo’s Marcell Dareus, who looks as though he might make a big second-half push.
Comeback player of the year: Alex Smith, 49ers — Give it to Smith or his teammate Frank Gore. After being left for dead, both have shocked critics in 2011, and both were great again Sunday.
Coach of the year: Jim Harbaugh, 49ers — Clearly this is somewhat linked to the comeback player of the year award and the defensive rookie of the year award. The 7-1 Niners are quite an amazing story.
Executive of the year: Rick Smith, Texans — Sorry, Trent Baalke, but I still have to give it to Smith, whose team looks as though it’s finally going to break into the playoffs for the first time ever, thanks mainly to some of the great moves Smith made in the offseason. It’s hard to believe that a defense that was ridiculed last season is now ranked first in the entire league! And how much better would these guys be with Andre Johnson and Mario Williams healthy?